Tracy sits down with Naj Austin, Founder and CEO of Ethel’s Club and Somewhere Good. Naj shares what prompted her to create Ethel’s Club and the questions she faced as a young, Black entrepreneur in the startup world.
Going Through It Season 2 Episode 5 Naj Austin
Tracy Clayton: This is Going Through It. A show about women who found themselves in situations where they said, “I do not get paid enough to put up with all this.” And they made a decision to make a change and turn something around. I'm your host, Tracy Clayton.
Naj Austin: I was in a coffee shop that I was a patron of for a very long time. I was there almost every morning at the same time, got the same thing. It was almost like clockwork.
Tracy: That's Naj Austin, the founder of Ethel's Club, which is a social and wellness Club for people of color.
Naj: So we've tried to make everyone, including, you know, people who are in Brooklyn, people who are not in Brooklyn, feel like they're part of what we're doing.
Tracy: But before Ethel's Club, Naj remembers this moment where she was trying to take a business call in her favorite coffee shop that she went to all the time. She was running a little late for the call. So instead of getting a drink first she just went to her usual seat. The barista noticed she hadn't ordered yet and --
Naj: She says, “This is a place of business, you can't just sit here.” And I hear her, I'm clearly on my phone and my phone is facing up and you can see I'm on a call. And, and I don't respond immediately, and she's like, “You need to order something, or you need to leave.”
Tracy: This feeling of being singled out, especially when she didn't do a single thing wrong, felt both unbelievable, but also believable.
Naj: And I'm like, “okay, well, you know, I'm actually not gonna order anything. I'm actually going to leave. I don't feel very comfortable here.” And then I gathered my things and I left. And on the way out, I'm like, “Should I pop off right now at this lady at 9am?” But then I was like, “I do have another call in 20 minutes. Maybe I should just get home.”
Tracy: Naj was fed up.
Naj: I wanted her to, to recognize the gravity of the situation, and I feel like potentially she didn't. And then I'm like, “You know, people of color and maybe specifically Black people often feel this burden of like, I don't want this to happen to anyone else.”
Tracy: Y'all see what just happened? That one moment, that one moment was trying to drag her down, but it actually led her to create a social club with 4,000 people on the waitlist alone before it opened. And I am just completely obsessed.
Tracy: Now, this interview was before the pandemic hit, right? It was before we all started self-quarantining and sheltering in place. And it was before places where we gather together physically, like in public, were something that we collectively agreed were terrifying. Since the pandemic hit, Naj has had to pivot her entire business model from a physical one to a digital one, which she's actually done super, super well. Just want to say. But the story of how the entire brand started, that, my friends, is timeless. I got to sit down with Naj right before the official launch of Ethel's Club to talk about affirming spaces. Spaces where we just feel seen. This is Going Through It.
Tracy: I'm so excited to talk to you about Ethel's Club. But first I have a complaint and that complaint is that I had the same idea. It was going to be called something else.
Tracy: And then when I heard about Ethel's Club. I was like, “No! [Laughs] Somebody stole the idea that I clearly was not going to ever act on. So thanks for that.
Naj: [crosstalk] Well, there- there's still room on the team, if you wanna just forward over a resume, you know.
Tracy: [crosstalk] Oh! Oh, I gotta find me a resume.
Naj: [crosstalk] Let me know. Let me know. [Laughs]
Tracy: Okay, I will do that.
Tracy: How did you feel as you walked out of that coffee shop? For what I'm assuming was the last time.
Naj: Right. Yes.
Tracy: How did, how did it feel to have been treated that way?
Naj: It was the last time. I felt -- I felt, I mean, like a lot of things, right? I was frustrated. I was mad. I was annoyed because now I'm like, “Now I have to go find another coffee shop.” [Laughs] Um, but also kind of like, “Why does this have to happen?” You know, “Why can't Black bodies just exist in the simplest of ways?”, you know? At the end of the day, I felt disappointed, I guess. You know, I feel like we live in a post-racial society.
Tracy: Uh-huh, we so do.
Naj: I'm like, “Why can't I exist in this coffee shop?” And then I'm like, “Oh, yeah. There's so much shit we haven't fixed.” Yeah.
Tracy: [crosstalk] Yeah. We may not be all the way post-racial yet.
Naj: Right. Right. Right. We need some, some time still.
Tracy: Yeah. It's so funny, uh, how real life will remind you of that.
Tracy: And is just like actually, mh-mmm.
Tracy: How did that feeling and the way that she made you feel relate to the start of Ethel's Club?
Naj: I think it inspired me to make a space where that would never happen. I wanted to create a place where I could walk in and not have someone question why I was there, demand why I was there, and then kind of put me in a position where I want to leave. Um, so everything that we're building about Ethel's Club is to combat that feeling.
Tracy: Mhm, um. This is such a huge thing. It's a really, really big endeavor. Um, how did you know what the first step was. You know?
Naj: [Laughs] I might be on step like 37, and I'm still not sure what's happening. Um, I think I was sort of like, I'm just gonna shout it from the rooftops and see what happens. I'm going to take this anger and this frustration and these feelings and see if other people feel the same way. And when I did that, it was an immediate response of people agreeing with me and sharing their stories of times that they had been in spaces that they felt unwelcome or were literally kicked out, um, due to being a person of color or a Black person. Um, so I think, you know, I'm already angry and frustrated. I’m, I'm looking to see if this is a problem other people are having. And I'm hearing all these stories and I think it just kept building up where I was like, we need a solution. And I don't see one that exists right now. And I am someone who, you know, when I have a problem, I go out and- and fix it no matter what the- the cost is or the hurdle is, and now I'm building a company.
Tracy: So do you remember, like, the first moment, the exact moment you were like, “Okay. I want to start this club and I want to call it Ethel's Club.”
Naj: I do. I was on my couch, on Instagram. [Laughs]
Tracy: [Laughs] As, as we all are, often.
Naj: [crosstalk] Exactly. And I thought -- I think I had seen a new brand kind of promoting their, their new product, and I was like, “You know, I think that this is something people want. And I'm just gonna put it out there.” And the first existence of Ethel's Club being real was an Instagram post back in January of 2019. Um, that- that was it. That was me putting it out in the world. And I was like, “This exists. It's a space that's gonna center people of color. I have absolutely no other details on this. I'm still trying to figure it out,” but I just put it out there and, and kind of waited to see what would happen. Um, and the re-- again, the response was immediate in terms of people saying, you know, “Where can I sign up for membership?” And I was like, “Oh no, wait, hold on. It's not real yet.” [Laughs]
Tracy: [Laughs] Um, who was the very first person you told? Like, “Hey, I want to do this tremendous thing.” Who did you tell first, and how did they respond?
Naj: It was my brother.
Naj: We were in his car and I was like, “I have this idea. This thing happened to me. I'm just thinking a lot about it. You know, I have a background in- in real estate and startups. It's not totally crazy if I start it, but it's kind of crazy. And I remember I, I said it with a lot of like clauses before I even said what it was. And he's like, “Can you just say what it is?” [Laughs] I'm like, “Okay, so it's a social club.” And immediately he's-- I remember his response. He said, "That's fire."
Tracy: [crosstalk] Ah… Yeah!
Naj: And hearing that from a 22 year old, I was like, “Yes, I'm doing it.” [Laughs] No, he was like, “All right, how-- what do we do next?” And I was like, “Great question, I don’t know.” [Laughs] Um, but he was the first person I- I told about the idea.
Tracy: So I'm trying to think of the best way to phrase this question. I'm going to go ahead and try. So, like, how, how do you create a space for people of color? Like, is it in the decor? Is it in the music? Is somebody’s grandmama in the back cooking collard greens? Like what makes it for us?
Naj: So when you walk in, the first thing you see is a mirror.
Naj: Because we wanted to make sure of the fact that you feel literally seen when you walk into the space. So we play around with that a lot in terms of the interior design. Um and the rest of the interior design has been sourced from designers, artisans, and makers who all identify as POC. Um, we do have some specific Black makers we've worked with. One is a woman named Nicole Crowder, who is an upholsterer from, uh, from Philadelphia.
Tracy: [crosstalk] Oh shit, that's Philly.
Naj: And when looking up like re-upholsterers on, like, you know, whatever generic website, everyone's like Bob, Darrel, Kenny. And I'm like, “Ugh.” And I see Nicole --
Tracy: [crosstalk] The ten white people-- the ten Black people that white people know. [Laughs]
Naj: Exactly. But I saw Nicole and I saw her Instagram and I was like, “We have to get her.” Um, but we've made sure to infuse a lot of the spirit throughout the space in almost literally everything. And it's funny now being in it, specifically yesterday I was in our office with my team and I was like, “Is it weird if I have my braider come by and braid my hair while I'm working? ‘Cause like the amount of time it takes to get to Harlem --”. They were like, “No, why would you -- why would that be weird?” I was like, “Wow, this is a luxury that --”
Tracy: Isn't it?
Naj: You like -- how would I have even asked that at my previous job? Like --.
Naj: Don't be weird --.
Tracy: [Laughs] But --.
Naj: But this woman's going to come by, and I might cry --.
Tracy: [crosstalk] With a bag full of hair. [Laughs]
Naj: [crosstalk] When she gets my edges. Like, the whole thing. And my teammates were like, “You're being weird by asking.” And I was like, “Wow, this is like -- this is a post racial society.” [Laughs]
Tracy: Right! This is the good kind of culture shock.
Naj: Exactly. Exactly.
Tracy: That I've been wanting.
Tracy: So my therapist is Black and we've been doing mostly video chats, video calls. And one day I had, like, overslept and I had my bonnet on, right. And I got on, “I was like I'm so sorry I still have on my bonnet.” She was like, “It's okay, I wear one too.” And I was like, “I never thought!” [Laughs]
Naj: You're like, “Wait! Hold on! Let me see yours.” [Laughs].
Tracy: Right. “What color is yours?”
Tracy: Um, tell me about a space where you absolutely, positively felt like you belonged.
Naj: My grandmother's house.
Naj: More so than my parents house, but I'm only saying that ‘cause I know my mom probably won't listen to this because she doesn't know how to listen to podcasts. [Laughs] But I mean, you go to grandma's house and there's food and she's hugging you and there're toys she bought. And like all your aunts and uncles and cousins are there. Like, it was a place where you could, you know, fully be yourself, whether that was goofy, or crying, or lazy. Um, and, you know, I think that those places are hard to find.
Naj: When we started, uh, Ethel's Club, we were doing customer discovery with a lot of people. And we asked them, you know, “What are safe, safe places you've been to?” And the most common answers were either a family member's home or a house of worship.
Naj: And, you know, thinking about that, uh, infused a lot of our choices in terms of things that we're building at Ethel's Club.
Tracy: Mm-hmm. Is the way that you felt at your grandmother's house, why you named the club after that space?
Naj: Yes. I named the club after my grandmother because I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted the space to feel like. And I kept coming back to a place of comfort, a place of joy, good food. It smells nice. Um, and it, it kept bringing back memories of my grandmother's home and in her-- And I wanted to sort of honor that legacy into this new journey that I was beginning. Um, it was just important for me to do that. And I always tell investors that I did it because I wanted a Black woman's name on the New York Stock Exchange.
Naj: But it, it was mainly for the emotional reason. [Laughs]
Tracy: Both amazing reasons. [Laughs] Both are fantastic flexes. Tell me about the politics of creating a space for Black people in a quote unquote, post-racial society --.
Tracy: Where people get really upset about minority scholarships, and minority internships, and reverse racism and all that.
Naj: So it's a lot of educating. Actually, on my phone I have a notes app that pretty much tackles all of this that I have to either post on Twitter, on Facebook or wherever, um, in terms of like, “Reverse racism is not a thing.” Here are some pieces you can read to learn more about that. It's a, it's a lot, but we haven't been touched by anything specifically, right. We're a space for people of color. Um, we do not deny anyone in- in regards to how they identify. We do not ask for people to identify themselves upon applying. It's much more that, you know, we are a space that celebrates this, and if you're not onboard with this, this is not the space for you. Um, so it's been fine, but it's, it's mostly shown itself in terms of, um, meeting with investors who were white. When they're like, “So, you know, what does this mean for the future? Like, are we just gonna have all of these segregated spaces?” And I'm like, “How many people of color do you work with?”
Naj: And they're like, “Well, uh-- hmm-- like two.” And I'm like, “Would that not be segregation on its own? That you don't have any people of color that you work with?” And like, “How many people of color were at your wedding?”
Tracy: [crosstalk] Right. Right.
Naj: [crosstalk] “Oh, none? Interesting. Okay.”
Tracy: [crosstalk] Yes. Love it.
Naj: So it's, it's, it's, it's, uh, it’s, it's someone looking for an incendiary moment, right?
Naj: And a lot of it, again, is lack of education. And so we've taken on the burden of being the company that will not only say like, “Well, that's literally not a thing, but here is why it's not.” Which, you know, as a Black woman, it becomes tiring to take it on personally. But having the company do it is -- I feel a little bit more of, like, maybe like ownership or something? Where I'm like, we can actually change the narrative around this. Maybe we can actually teach people for once what this all means.
Tracy: [crosstalk] Yes. Yeah. I think that the idea of figuring out where there are gaps in, like, society and then being like, “Well, there's nobody serving this need or this need. There's lots of money in it.”
Tracy: “We should do it.”
Tracy: I don't get how, like, existing companies don't really see it or they don't really care about it because, like, there are tons of, like, the social identity-based workspaces.
Tracy: I've been in a couple, possibly a few, and I always felt like I stood out.
Tracy: And it wasn't just because I was the only -- typically the only brown person in the space.
Tracy: It was just like there's something about, like, the decor that, you know, I wouldn't ever live in a place like this. I felt -- I feel like I'm in like a white person's house.
Naj: [crosstalk] Yes, yes. [Laughs]
Tracy: [crosstalk] And I shouldn't touch anything. Get my feet off the rug, you know? Did you ever at any point think of partnering with existing spaces to, like, help make them more inclusive? Or were you always just like, “Nah. We just got to do our own stuff”?
Naj: So it's something I had thought about because as we've discussed, the idea of creating your own company sounds daunting and kind of ludicrous when you're in the very early stages. So the first idea I had was to come to those companies and say, like, “Look, here's where you are missing a huge market, and I know I can help you reach it.” But while I was writing out these ideas, I was like, “Wait.” Not necessarily I should do this, but I don't -- I didn't have the confidence that even if I give them the ideas and all the tools, that they could implement it in the right manner. I think a lot of creating a company as a founder, um, is that you tend to create the company in your likeness. And I think that's -- it just happens. You're spending 100 percent of your time with this thing. And when you're asking, you know, presumably to white people, to understand what it means to be a person of color, again, you're starting at page one of a very big book.
Tracy: [crosstalk] Yeah. Right.
Naj: Of like, “Okay. So this is why you shouldn't approach it this way.” And I'm like, I'm not a professional that should be teaching like D&I.
Tracy: [crosstalk] Listen.
Naj: This is bigger than D&I. Um, and so much of it I was like someone who is Black should be doing this. Someone who is a person of color should be leading this charge. Again, was like, “Hopefully they do that sometime soon,” you know?
Tracy: [crosstalk] Yeah.
Naj: And then over the months, again, no one had stepped up to really talk about it seriously. And so, Instagram day one.
Tracy: Yeah. Yeah. So in my head, it's kind of like giving, um, a very well-meaning white lady your grandma's potato salad recipe.
Tracy: And being like, I want you to mass produce this for everybody.
Naj: [crosstalk] Mm-hmm. And then --.
Tracy: You know it's not gonna have enough salt.
Naj: [crosstalk] Yep, yep.
Tracy: [crosstalk] It's not gonna have enough seasoning.
Naj: And she's like, “Well, I put raisins it.”
Tracy: [crosstalk] No!
Naj: [crosstalk] Don't get weird!
Tracy: [Laughs] Take my name off of that now.
Naj: [crosstalk] And I'm like, “You've destroyed it.” Exactly. [Laughs] Exactly.
Tracy: Ugh, okay. So you were like, “No raisins in this potato salad.”
Naj: Exactly. Ever.
Tracy: [crosstalk] Ever.
Naj: So, so, I guess I'll have to do it then.
Tracy: Well, what kind of obstacles have you faced so far?
Naj: Well, they’re, they’re still there. And there are probably more I don't know about. The biggest one has been around fundraising, abou-- around meeting with investors and having, you know, the world of venture capital, um, which is primarily white and primarily male, look at this idea and see that the market opportunity is enormous, right? By 2040, half of the U.S. will identify as a person of color. No one is really paying attention, very similarly to when people were like, “Hey, I think women should have products for them.” And everyone was like, “Women don't buy things!” [Laughs] Or whatever the answer could have been. And now --.
Tracy: [crosstalk] “We won't let them work!”
Naj: Exactly. And like, you know, now there're you know, there're billionaires who created companies around products designed for women. And I- I did -- I felt like no one was taking it seriously in regards to, to people of color. And, and it happens all the time, um. When I originally started raising capital around this, um, you know, people were like, “How big could the market be?” I'm like, “Pretty big. Like, here's some facts.”
Tracy: [crosstalk] There's a lot of us, you know.
Naj: [crosstalk] And they're like, “Do people want this?” And I'm like, “Yep. Uh, I put it on Instagram and they have never stopped harassing me. And, you know, we have a 4,000 person waitlist.” And they were like, “Hmm, I don't know, I just don't see it.” And I remember, um, um, one, one investor I met with -- who I won't name, but one day will --
Tracy: Yes. [Laughs]
Naj: Who was, who was like, “You know, I asked my, my Black friend--” And I'm like, “Oh wow, you just brought your one Black friend into the room, okay.” And like, “I asked my one Black friend and, you know, he said he didn't totally get it. So I don't think I can really wrap my head around it.” And I was like, “Okay. Yep. It's totally normal to, like, talk to one person who identifies in this enormous group of people.”
Naj: “And, and craft a decision around it.” So, so that, that was a huge hurdle. Um, but what I did was sort of take a step back and say, “If I am creating this for people of color, I should raise from people of color.” And so I started raising from Black and brown people. And those conversations went a lot more smoothly. They were like, “Oh my gosh! How has no one done this? Take all of my money.” And I was like, “See?” [Laughs] Um, “I'm not crazy. And, and they're not crazy,” right? And these are, you know, institutional business people who were like, you know, people are always like, “No one's done this?” I'm like, “No.” And they're like, “Really?” I'm like, “You can Google it.”
Tracy: [crosstalk] Right. You can go look and see.
Naj: [crosstalk] I have definitely done my homework, but for sure. So there's all that defending, right.
Tracy: Because inherently I'm just like, “You don't think I have this right, or that I can do this because I'm a Black girl,” like.
Tracy: You know?
Naj: You don't think that Black and brown people will spend their money. And I'm like --.
Tracy: On something like this.
Naj: “We have money.” You know, I've, I've had like, “Oh, do you think that no one's created it because, you know, Black and brown people, they like -- you know. They don't -- you know.”
Tracy: [crosstalk] Wow.
Naj: And I'm like, “How what are -- what are you saying? I'm not quite sure.” [Laughs]
Tracy: [crosstalk] Right! “Spell it out, Frank.” [Laughs]
Naj: [crosstalk] “Give me some. Ex” -- Literally. Literally.
Tracy: [crosstalk] “What are you trying to say?”
Naj: Um, and, you know, dealing with all of that while still trying to create the company and deal with all the, you know, boring stuff, right? Like finding a lawyer and, like, incorporating the company and then going out to see spaces while coping with people thinking that your idea is like this cute project.
Naj: I got that a lot. “Oh, this sounds like such a cute project.”
Tracy: Ugh. I would've slapped everybody in the room.
Naj: [crosstalk] I'm like, “I pay taxes.”
Naj: [crosstalk] Like this, this --.
Tracy: [crosstalk] Don't call nothing on me cute.
Naj: Stopped becoming a project.
Tracy: So I think this is my favorite fairy tale story, but I don't want it all to, like, minimize, like, the actual work and elbow grease you had to put into making this happen. Um, was there ever a time when you were like, “Oh my God. This actually might not work. Like we might not open ever?”
Naj: Yeah, I mean, since we haven't opened yet, I still feel that when I go to bed, um...
Naj: It's hard. It's all hard. And I think when we were looking for spaces, we were having a really hard time finding one as a new company with little to non-- no operating history. Um, you know, not a lot of cash in the bank. And I was like, “I think we might not be able to open because of this. I don't know if we're gonna be able to find a place and that's the entire product.” So then it all kind of falls apart.
Tracy: So true.
Naj: Um, so that was, that was the first time that I felt that way, but once we signed the lease, I was sort of like, “Okay, we managed to sign a lease; the rest of this will definitely be easier.” And I don't if I'd say it's been easier, um, but it's -- that was, I think, the one time where I was like, “Maybe this won't be a reality anymore.”
Tracy: Talk to me about the fight for credibility as a Black woman in business. Because I know that one of the things that white folks love to do, whenever there's something that like Black folks, people of color are really, really into is kind of downplay it. And downplay its existence and its success even in their accomplishments.
Tracy: How do you navigate that? Like, how do you go about making sure that you are respected in your accomplishments? Are respected as a Black woman?
Naj: I try to not pay too much attention to what other people are saying. It just, it's one of those things that it'll just drag you down the hole of despair if you want to spend enough time there.
Tracy: [crosstalk] Yeah, how do you do that? I need tips. [Laughs]
Naj: Um, I know, but it's hard, you know, because I-- I'm a very online person. So I have to really kind of forcibly remove myself. Um, bu-- but I think my, my approach is to kill them with success. So that it does not become a, a sticking point, right? There's no questioning it. It just is. And I think to do that, it requires me to be very focused and heads down and work one million times harder. But on the other end is that no one questions what Ethel's Club is, no one calls it a project, or cute little side hustle that I'm working on, right? It's a, it's a real business with real revenue, and dollars, and people, and customers. And as soon as I can get there, I think that the conversations will change.
Tracy: When it comes to identity and how someone sees themselves and labels themselves, like, can get kind of fuzzy sometimes, the line can.
Naj: [crosstalk] Yes. Yes.
Tracy: Like what if -- completely hypothetical situation.
Naj: I'm sure, I've thought about it, but go on. [Laughs].
Tracy: What if Rachel Dolezal is like, “Hey. [Laughs] Trying to get in this club; I'm transracially Black.”
Naj: If she doesn't apply, I'm gonna be offended. [Laughs]Um, I don't know what we would do because we do not ask for people to identify themselves upon applying, right? We are looking at who you are as a person. And if you are aligned with what we're looking to build, which she would probably say she is. [Laughs] Um, so I think, you know, we're probably gonna have a Rachel Dolezal at some point. And I think it's going to be an interesting, uh, situation for the company to deal with, right? Like, how do we -- what do we do, right?
Naj: Is she still welcome into the space, right? We, without knowing anything, assumed she was the best candidate to be a part of what we're building. Um, I don't have a good answer for that. I think it's something we're gonna find out in real time when she walks in here like, “Oh I knew it was her.” [Laughs]
Tracy: Yeah. Yeah. Once you see them braids, like, “Dammit!” [Laughs]
Naj: [crosstalk] Exactly. I shouldn't drop that. That's not nice.
Tracy: [crosstalk] [sings] I don't know that's she's gonna wanna join the club after this. [Laughs].
Naj: Rachel, please call me. [Laughs]
Tracy: Um, It's been a real joy watching this come to fruition on social media, because it's such a big idea. And I think that even I, even I still have trouble figuring out how big ideas come to be, you know? So if there's a Black girl out there listening right now with this huge idea that she just doesn't know if she can make it happen or she doesn't know where to start, um, but she wants it to to be successful and she wants to make money and she wants it to be out there. What is your main nugget of advice for her?
Naj: My main nugget of advice is to just start in any way, whether it's making a website, an Instagram, business cards, talking about it at every party you go to. Um, I think it's making it real to yourself first and then it becomes real to everyone else, and then it's real. When Ethel's Club was in the early stages, I would introduce myself. You know, as Naj, and people'd say, “What do you do?” And I'd say, “I'm the CEO of a company.” The company did not exist legally, I don't think at that time. Um, but I was in my head because I was already building and ideating, working on this idea. And people were like, “Oh, that's great. Tell me more about it.” By doing that, it makes it a real thing. And I think that by putting something out in the world, um, you begin to craft it and, and make it real.
Tracy: So basically what you're telling me is that the whole fake it till you make a thing is real? It's a thing.
Naj: It's real. It's a real thing.
Tracy: Talking with Naj about spaces where we can feel affirmed and seen, makes me really appreciate my own space. My own personal Ethel's Club, if you will, which I guess would be Chase's Club? Or if it's after my granny, would be Zilfa's Club. Aww.
Tracy: Well, I have that with my homegirls. You know that feeling when your shoulders can just, like, just relax because you know that you and your girls both get it, and you don't have to explain nothing. Like, “No explanatory commas here. Not at all. No, ma'am. No, sir. Nobody.” So my Going Through It listeners, me and my girls got into what community sounds like.
Tracy: All right. Cheers, everybody!
Tracy: To technology! Okay, friends. Got a question. What does community sound like to you? Like, literally sound like.
Dani: I feel like you have to have a drum. Like, it has to have like a beat. Like, you know what I mean?
Tracy: Like New Orleans second line style?
Dani: Yeah. Second line, just something that feels -- like you feel that bass, like percussion. Because I feel like that sound is like people are together usually.
Maya: For me community, um, it sounds like my mom like at Target going like, “Hey girl.” Like, me and my brother, like, we used to always have, like, this bet that we can never go to Costco or Target without my mom running into someone that she knew. And then we'd stay there for probably like 20 to 30 more minutes, just, like, talking and catching up with people. And, like, it used to drive me crazy. And then now, like, especially in this, like, isolation time, like, it's so important. You can't take that for granted.
Akeilah: When Maya was talking about the Costco trip, I was just thinking about, like, to me, it's also sounds like a deep sigh of like being a kid and just being like, “Oh my God. Can we go?”
Tracy: Waitin’ on your grandmama in the church parking lot?
Akeilah: Yes. Yes! [Laughs].
Tracy: Soon as you hear that, “Hey girl!” You're like, “Ugh.”
Maya: “Here we go.”
Tracy: 20 minutes. That's an extra 30.
Akeilah: “I'm about be in this Costco for a while, let me get a hot dog.”
Maya: I know. “Let me go get some samples. I'll be back.”
Tracy: Thank you so, so much for tuning in. Going Through It is an original podcast created in partnership with MailChimp and Pineapple Street Studios. Executive Producers for Going Through It are Jenna Weiss-Berman, Max Linsky, and Agerenesh Ashagre. Shout out to the producers of Going Through It. Our Lead Producer is Josh Gwynn, Production by Jess Jupiter and Janelle Anderson. Our Editor is the always fly, Leila Day. Also, thank you to the voices of the folks you heard sound off in this episode. [sings] Let's hear those names again.
Akeilah: I'm Akeilah.
Maya: I'm Maya.
Dani: I'm Dani.
Tracy: Our original music is by Daoud Anthony. Our engineer is Hannis Brown and a special thanks to Eleanor Kagan for being the alpha and the originator of this entire party. And stay in touch. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @BrokeyMcPoverty. Spelled just as it sounds. And look! Tell your friends about the show. Make sure you rate and subscribe to Going Through It on Apple podcast, Spotify and wherever free podcasts are sold. That's it! We outta here! See you next week.
Tracy: If there's one thing I am, ladies and gentlemen, it is a woman of my word. So on the opening day for Ethel's Club, I got to pop up on Naj. Check out the space, see the vibe and see if there really was a Tracy wing.
Tracy: Oh my gosh! Naj!
Naj: Welcome to Ethel's Club.
Tracy: [crosstalk] Thank you.
Naj: Yes. Come on in. Come on in.
Tracy: I got to talk to some of the folks who were there at Ethel's Club. They were all beautiful, beautiful people of color, who see the need for a space where we can feel affirmed.
Ethel's Club Patron: It feels completely surreal and magic, honestly.
Ethel's Club Patron: I'm just like, “Wow, it feels kind of unreal that this space exists.”
Ethel's Club Patron: I was like, “Wow, we might need more space.” [Laughs] That was my first thought. I'm like, “Whoa! There's a lot of people here.”
Ethel's Club Patron: And it's comfy and beautiful. So it works for me.
Ethel's Club Patron: I grew up in largely white spaces, where I felt like I was always having to apologize for my presence. So this space I just see as a force to cultivating even more magic, even more innovation and inspiration. This is going to be poppin’, and this is just the start of it.
Listen as 14 talented women tell the story about pivotal moments in their lives when they had to decide whether to quit or keep going. The new season, hosted by Tracy Clayton, is out now.
Listen as 14 talented women tell the story about pivotal moments in their lives when they had to decide whether to quit or keep going. The new season, hosted by Tracy Clayton, is out now.
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